For the first time since its inception, animation films and filmmakers from the student category received the most awards from Best Art Direction to Best Screenplay, Best Director and Best Original Music at the 7th National Youth Film Awards (NYFA). Live action films, on the other hand, won the most awards from Best Sound Design to Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Original Music for the Open Youth category.
Hosted by *SCAPE, an organisation that supports the development of Singaporean youths, NYFA awards youth filmmakers and films for 23 different categories, including Best Actress and Best Actor.
NYFA also presented its third Youth Inspiration Award recipient – an award given to recognise and honour a young industry professional who has made exemplary contributions towards the filmmaking industry in Singapore and is committed to nurturing the next generation of filmmakers.
NYFA 2021 received over 300 submissions. The most prominent discussions and themes the youth filmmakers brought forth this year were self-identity and mental health. Some of the films were filmed completely while at home, taking creativity to the next level.
Animation short film, ‘To Kill the Birds and The Bees’, by Calleen Koh Yee Lin from LASALLE College of Arts won the Best Art Direction, Best Screenplay and Best Original Music awards. The animation film follows three separate stories of four average Singaporeans – a pair of young twins, a secondary school prefect, and a conservative housewife. Each story focuses on these average Singaporeans’ sexual encounters in their day.
The Best Animation award from the Student category went to ‘Full Circle’ by Yeow Su Xian of Nanyang Technological University. The film is about the Moon and Earth’s relationship. It takes the audience on a journey through a sleepless, semiconscious moonlit night.
From the Open Youth category, ‘Dark Light’ by Vikneshwaran Silva won the Best Cinematography and Best Director awards. The film follows a construction worker in Singapore’s unforgettable misadventure on his day off in the red light district. The youth actor who played the protagonist in ‘Dark Light’, Gosteloa Spancer, received the Best Actor award for his performance.
This year, a total of 21 industry veteran jurors from the region took part in NYFA. “Having an empowered upbringing has nurtured savoir faire in these youths’ art,” said returning juror and producer, Juan Foo. “We can see how they are leveraging digital technology to craft films and spread them exponentially. I look forward to seeing how these upcoming filmmakers will tell stories that resonate with audiences, aside from being able to entertain, inform or inspire.”
Film and television actor, and first-time juror, Oon Shu An said, “I look forward to seeing these youth filmmakers’ fire and daring approach to storytelling well into the future. I am excited to see how far their voices will take them.”
The Youth Inspiration Award recipients are nominated and selected by the NYFA jury for a filmmaker who demonstrates artistic excellence and commitment manifested through a distinctive body of TV/film works.
The NYFA 2021 Youth Inspiration Award went to Tan Si En. Not only is she the winner for NYFA 2020 Best Live Action Award from the Open Youth category, she has also produced several award-winning films including Anthony Chen’s ‘Wet Season’ and Kirsten Tan’s ‘POP AYE’. Her commitment to discover emerging Southeast Asian filmmakers led to her founding of Momo Film Co, which has since produced award-winning short film projects that have been screened at major festivals such as Locarno Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival and Busan International Film Festival. Most recently, she spearheaded the Objectifs short film incubator and Momo Distribution Grant. Si En was also involved at the NYFA Conference this year where she hosted a workshop on how youths can market their short films.
“The National Youth Film Awards has been a pivotal platform for young filmmakers in Singapore,” said Si En. “The team inspires the film community, encourages filmmakers and future generations to pursue their passion in cinema. I am appreciative of the immense support that I received from NYFA as a participant, the opportunities to share as a panellist speaker, and now as the Youth Inspiration Award recipient. I look forward to working continually with NYFA and to contribute by giving back to the local and regional film community.
Said *SCAPE Executive Director Ivy Lim: “We had hoped 2021 would fare better than 2020. In a sense, it did, but not without presenting its fair share of hurdles. *SCAPE had to quickly pivot so that we can continue to support our youths in ways they needed us to. We shifted our annual milestone programmes such as the Youth Music Awards, Creative Fellowship (for budding entrepreneurs) and the NYFA Conference to hybrid environments for the first time, to adapt to the new norm presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“We also witnessed how the pandemic had impacted the art of filmmaking – from productions being halted, to restrictions that limited access to resources and tested filmmakers’ creativities. NYFA 2021 is themed “New Dawn, New Beginnings”, as we believe the way forward was to focus on our creative abilities to innovate.”
“Through NYFA 2021, we received a relatively high number of film submissions produced despite the Circuit Breaker, heartwarming and inspiring stories that showcased Singaporeans battling uncertainties and overcoming adversities. A big thank you to all the youths who participated this year and our sincerest congratulations to the winners and nominees. You have all clearly demonstrated that the human spirit cannot be underestimated. Do keep those flames of passion burning bright and we look forward to seeing more of your works soon.”– *SCAPE Executive Director Ivy Lim
This year’s winners will also walk away with sponsored prizes that are estimated
to be worth over $70,000:
● $1,000 cash each
● Post-production packages with Mocha Chai Laboratories
● SONY Alpha 7S III and Alpha 6600M camera
● MAGES Professional Short Programmes in Art, Design, and Technology
● Cathay Photo accessories vouchers
● Deity Microphones
● Creative SXFI AIR GAMER, latest wireless earbuds and stage soundbar
● Wacom Intuos Med Bluetooth tablet
● Screenwriters Association (Singapore) script consultations and
● The Actors’ Society one year membership
For more information on the National Youth Film Awards, visit their website here